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Consumers Want to Know (Part I)

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Consumers Want to Know (Part I)

Published 1960
Topics Consumerism

Inside the testing labs of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.

Run time 14:09
Producer Vavin, Inc.
Sponsor Consumers Union of the United States
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


"A factual description of the day-to-day work of Consumers Union of United States Inc., a non-profit organization"
"In addition to its product reporting, Consumers Union is active on many fronts and CU representatives are likely to be found wherever the consumer interest is invested"

This film shows how The Consumers Union decides what products are of public interest and should be tested in order to evaluate the quality of the product. The testing of many products is shown -- washing machines, refrigerators, automobiles, children's' shoes, phonograph sound quality, and lipstick as well as many other items. The editing of the articles and the importance of the final publication in the form of The Consumer Report are also emphasized.

distant shot of an outdoor shopping center
Women walking past store front windows with mannequins inside
Store front window with laundry machines inside
Close-up of the legs of running children
Children spinning on a merry-go-round
A jet boat driving in circles
Mt. Vernon, New York -- "Consumers Union of U.S. Consumer Reports"
A large office with many people working behind desks
Magazines being put in cubbyholes
Close-up of a mechanical paper feeder
A board of directors seated around a table
A library
A finger points at a map of the northern eastern coast of the U.S.
Silhouette of a rotary dial telephone being dialed and cord curling, headset extended to the ear in front of a map of the U.S.
A woman in a long fur jacket enters a "stereo hi-fi" store
A box being loaded into a car
A laboratory, close-up of an oscilloscope
Close-up of an album spinning on a phonograph
Man writing, standing behind a table with many packages (cereal boxes?) on it, packages behind him
close-up of three young boys happily looking at shoes -- many boys seated on a bench trying on shoes
children rushing down a flight of stairs (exiting school?) and running
Close-up of two women inspecting shoes
Close-up of a shoe, torn apart for dissection in a laboratory analysis, a woman taking notes on a clipboard
A large warehouse full of washing machines and refrigerators
Close-up of a washing machine dial
Wires being placed inside a refrigerator (thermocouples)
Portable television sets being lifted
Two television monitors with test patterns on them
Close-up of a woman applying lipstick in a mirror
Close-up of the face of a woman as she applies lipstick
Close-up of "The Visible Man" model box lid being removed, and instruction booklet being taken out
Close-up of a model dinosaur kit being assembled, close-up of glue being applied
A Chevy racing down a road, skids to a stop
Mattress being rolled over with a large metal roller
Machinery holding a variety of pens, drawing a series of loops on a long strip of paper
Man in a lab coat removing a Corningware container from a freezer
Close-up of two cigarettes on sucking mechanism, burning down
A man and a woman walk down a business hallway
A man reading off of a paper into a Dictaphone
Woman typing wearing a headset
Men in lab coats carrying record albums -- simultaneously placing them on phonographs
man in a lab coat, shutting sound proof double doors
Close-up of an air pressure gauge
close-up of a hand held switch
Reels spinning in computer or magnetic tape recording equipment
A sign, "Test #28", "A and B" alternately light up behind a curtain
close-up of a man writing
man typing
Close-up of typewriter type
Two Men remove pens from a holder on a desk
close-up of stamp "OK/W TO CAST"
Magazine articles being flipped through
Covers of "Consumer Reports" magazines lying on a table
The Federal Trade Commission building
Four executives walking down the sidewalk
Close-up of an article from Consumer reports with the magazine cover behind it
Close-up of the talking faces of the executives
A laboratory
Articles from Consumer reports being piled on top of each other
A woman pointing at a map of the world
A bulletin board with articles pinned to it
Close-up of beakers of liquids with number and letter labels
A poster display of spoons -- "Can you pick out which of these stainless steel patterns are really "stainless"? Mustard and vinegar stained brand C above."
A tourist group stand attentively (a nun is part of the group)
A woman carrying a suitcase walks up to a door and rings the bell
A slow pan of a large office with many people working at desks
A woman stretches to pick a publication off an upper rack
Worker man reads a magazine, sips out of a paper cup, bandage on his chin



Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 17, 2005
Subject: A Report on Consumer Reports
This early 60s film gives a detailed and complete profile of Consumers Union, the non-profit organization that publishes Consumer Reports. The profile is very straightforward, reflecting the dedication to facts of the organization, an organization that does very good work. Unfortunately, this means it gets rather dull after awhile, because it goes into such detail. Still, the scenes of the various laboratory tests are pretty interestingI want the cigarette smoking machine for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices (Smoking Section).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. CU Rating: Recommended with Reservations. Overall Rating: ***.
Reviewer: Bill T. - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 12, 2005
Subject: Calling Captain Consumer (hey, remember that?)
Calling Capatin Consumer (hey, remember that?)

In this highly interesting overview of what Consumer Reports does.. or did.. (are they still around? I havent seen any in quite a while...) the many different aspects are explained. Although one wonders if they REALLY have that equipment at their labaratory ready for use at their disposal (C'mon, a sound-proof room?). Interesting to see their insistance that they're just a simple organization with pure wholesome values (aka no corperate greed).
Reviewer: cjxn - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 29, 2003
Subject: Consumers Union Reports on itself
CU is still going strong, and pretty much everything said about CU in this film is still true today. The film highlights CU's independent testing activities in 1960. The objectivity for which CU is famous comes through loud and clear in this film.

Lots of self-serious cliches here, like the team of old white guys marching into the FTC building, women contributing to the effort by testing lipstick, and the constant presence of bespectacled men wearing white lab coats and carrying clipboards. Footage of CU testing the Chevy Corvair and the underplayed reference to CU's crusade for automobile seat belts add ironic and poignant touches.

By the end of part II the stirring music will have you grabbing your checkbook to re-up for another year of Consumer Reports.
Reviewer: 2muchtv - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 19, 2003
Subject: New Deal Activisim at it's best
Most American's today are so fatalistic and self centered that the notion of an activist consumer organization is likely difficult to fathom.

Government and corporate mind control efforts of the 1990s have successfully convinced most of us that the idea of working together for a better life is passeÃÂ, and that we should simply buy what we are told to buy.

Here we have a fascinating reminder that American activism was once as constructive and productive as American Industry. A thorough discussion of the structure and goals of an institution most Americans have forgotten about.

It is terribly sad to be shown what we have become, especially when we are reminded of who we used to be, by such a wonderful film. Likely incomprehensible to anyone under 40.

"Au pays des aveugles les borgnes sont rois!"
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